Che Gilson is an author and a graphic artist who recently released a novel called Carmine Rojas: Dogfight with Black Opal Books. When you take a look at her bio, you'll see a ton of credits for work in comics as well as fiction. I interviewed her over the summer about Carmine Rojas, an action-packed story about an werewolf in an illegal pit-fighting ring, a werewolf who is as tough as,,, well... a werewolf, with a big heart. The story of Carmine, in this first book, is told in "rounds" which I think is a particularly clever way of indicating a change in the narrative.
I was privileged enough to interview her on the air at WRKC over the summer, but had yet to figure out how to create a video of that discussion. I am doubly blessed to get to interview her for a second time on Ye Olde Spotty Blog.
Without further preamble...
Q) What inspired Carmine Rojas: Dogfight?
A) I was writing another book called Tea Times Three, and it's a sweet book about a town, and tea, and witches, and food, and there is only mild swearing and nothing explodes. After working on Tea Times Three for something like three years I needed a break. I needed to write a book with action, violence, swearing and explosions! That's how Carmine came to be. I don't remember exactly HOW I created her or her world. She might have been one of those characters that just spring instantly to life. I don't remember writing Carmine to be very hard. I spent a lot of time editing it though with great suggestions from Suzanne McLeod.
Q) If you could be a shapeshifter, what kind of shapeshifter would you be?
A) I'd like to turn into something that could fly. So maybe an owl or an eagle.
Q) You are also a graphic artist. Do you think that your sense of the visual influences your writing? If so, how?
A) Maybe. I tend to visualize my books as movies and then try to describe what's happening. I like to describe things like clothing and weather. I don't know if it's a help or a hindrance though.
Q) Cows or crows?
A) CROWS! I love crows! I watched a documentary about them and they actually call on other crows for help, then other crows come and help the one in trouble, they're amazing! I'm also a fan of all things avian :)
Q) When did you first know that you wanted to be a fiction writer?
A) I came to writing from a slightly different direction than other authors. I always made up stories, as a kid, but I would draw them out, not as a comic, but as a series of illustrations. Then I discovered graphic novels (ElfQuest) in third grade and that became my calling. I wanted to write and draw comic books.
The comics didn't work out as I planned and I decided that I would have a better chance of getting my stories to the world if I wrote them as prose. So, while I was always writing SOMETHING, stories, comic book scripts, and bad attempts at novels, I wasn't 100% dedicated to writing prose until I had to drop out of art school because of damage to my arm. I wrote three (terrible) children's books, then got sucked back into comics off and on for years before I FINALLY quit trying and just started prose.
Q) Harmonica or Harmonium?
A) Hang on while I Google harmonium.... Harmonium! For sure!
Q) I get the sense from Carmine Rojas: Dogfight, that we'll be seeing more of her in the future. What's next for her?
A) Next up is her mid-life crisis! LOL! I'm about halfway done with her next adventure. I'm worried it's a bit too much of a departure, there's only one fight scene so far (but lots of swearing!). It ends with a massive fight scene, so maybe that will make up for it. I'll have to do better in the third one...
Q) Courier or Times New Roman?
A) Both actually. I like to uses Times for the manuscript, then to edit I change the font to courier, then switch it back when I've got the major edits done. Switching fonts helps me see the book differently and catch mistakes I wouldn't normally see.
Q) Is there a particular form of writing that you haven't tried yet that you'd like to?
A) Epistolic- does that count? I'm actually trying out a novel written in e-mails right now. I don't know how it's going...
Q) When your creative batteries are drained, what do you do to recharge?
A) I watch TV and work on art usually. I haven't had a lot of time art lately. Art is actually what I THOUGHT I'd be doing with my life. It's still really important to me and I love to draw! I also just take time off writing. I'll stop for a week or two at times. Though I feel terribly guilty that I'm not the sort of author who can turn out 5000 words a day.